Alaska reports 20 COVID-19 deaths and more than 500 new cases on Friday – Community News
Covid-19

Alaska reports 20 COVID-19 deaths and more than 500 new cases on Friday

Through Annie Berman

Updated: 30 minutes ago Published: 38 minutes ago

Alaska reported an additional 20 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, a sign of the continuing impact of the record number of cases and hospitalizations the state has experienced this fall.

The state also reported 526 new coronavirus infections on Friday amid a gradual decline in the number of cases. According to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alaska now ranks ninth nationally for the number of COVID-19 cases over the past week, at 369.5 per 100,000 people. For most of September and October, Alaska had the highest number of cases per capita.

The recent drop in cases has brought some relief at state hospitals, where 134 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized on Friday, including 18 on ventilators. About 13% of all hospitalized patients in the state have COVID-19.

Those numbers don’t include some people who are recovering from the illness and need ongoing care, often for several weeks after being admitted.

While it wasn’t immediately clear how recently the 20 newly reported deaths occurred, they are part of a steady stream of fatalities recently reported by the state. Deaths from COVID-19 are not always immediately reflected in the state’s virus data. Sometimes they don’t appear until health officials review death certificates, a process that can sometimes take several weeks.

Government agencies rely on death certificates to report COVID-19 deaths. If a doctor determines that a COVID-19 infection contributed to a person’s death, it will be recorded on the death certificate and ultimately counted toward the state’s official toll, health officials say.

A total of 832 COVID-19 deaths among Alaskans and 30 among nonresidents living in the state have been recorded as of March 2020. September and October 2021 have been the deadliest months of the pandemic so far, state data shows.

Statewide, approximately 60% of Alaska residents ages 5 and older have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 55% are considered fully vaccinated.

While cases have fallen since recent spikes, health officials say increasing the state’s vaccination rates will be key to preventing future rises in infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

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Alaska currently ranks 32nd in the country of all states and Washington, DC, for its per capita vaccination rate, according to CDC data collected by The New York Times.